BelAZ also tried to send a shipment of trucks to Chile through Klaipeda in September, but was stopped by Lithuanian customs.
“BelAZ is on the sanction list, so any economic activity is prohibited according to the sanctions,” Rolandas Jurgaitis, a senior adviser in the customs procedures department, told Siena.
But a couple of weeks later, customs decided to release the shipment. According to Jurgaitis, the government relented because documents were provided which proved that BelAZ had received most of the money for the shipment before the sanctions were applied.
However, the dump trucks are still in Klaipeda. Local news portal Atvira Klaipeda reported that the company that was supposed to handle the shipment became hesitant to move the trucks out of Lithuania due to U.S. sanctions on the Lukashenko regime.
Martynas Vainorius/ Atvira Klaipeda
BelAZ trucks held in the Lithuanian port of Klaipeda.
Lithuania’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said it would assess each shipment on a case-by-case basis.
In Belarus, Lukashenko is doing what he can to stop alleged leaks of information about sanctions breaches. While Siena and Belsat worked on this story in August and September, several employees at state-owned companies were arrested on allegations of high treason and conspiracy.
“According to my information, there are some bastards remaining,” Lukashenko said in a speech accusing unnamed people of “seeking to inform the collective West” about how politicians are attempting to get around sanctions.
“In fact, they’re spying,” he added, vowing that they would remain in prison for a long time.
Maria Matusevich and OCCRP ID contributed research to this story.
NOTE: This is an expanded English-language version of a story originally published in Lithuanian (Siena) and Belarusian (Belsat) with support from IJ4EU.